Vital for West Norfolk businesses need to listen to their customers

Chris Sargisson, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce
Chris Sargisson, chief executive of Norfolk Chamber of Commerce

It’s good to talk, was my headline last month. Equally important though is the need to listen. If we’re not hearing what our customers – and potential customers – actually want, we’re doomed.

A key factor for West Norfolk’s businesses in the second half of 2017 is this. The big driving forces such as political change, Brexit included of course, and the skills shortage, mean that your customers have to be fleet of foot; they need to change plan more often than usual. Which means you do too. And you won’t know where you’re going unless you have good data on what the changed requirements are.

All of which means you have to listen more. And that means engaging with customers, as well as potential ones. It means opening two-way communication. It means realising that the stuff you don’t know is probably more important than what you already know.

The digital tools available to today’s managers and leaders make it more possible than ever to engage, communicate with and learn from our existing and future customers. We can target more precisely, talk more frequently and listen more attentively now than we ever could, even if we’d sent out a thousand researchers with clipboards every week.

Do I ‘practise what I preach?’ Right now, five weeks or so into my role as CEO of the Chamber, I’m happy to say yes. We’re stepping up engagement with members, so that we can listen to them more. What we’re hearing is being channelled into the strategy for the future. We’re enhancing our two way communications - with members and non members alike. That’s already flagging up some things we didn’t know, as well as confirming some we did.

Face to face interaction will never be totally replaced as the core of commerce. This is about opening all the channels to ensure that you listen, and hear, what people want.

Let’s make this more than even a two way street. Let’s be multi directional!

West Norfolk - hear what your customers are saying. Meantime, we’re listening to West Norfolk’s businesses, so that West Norfolk’s businesses will be heard.